[Standards-JIG] Re: E-Commerce and Patents

Trejkaz trejkaz at trypticon.org
Mon Feb 13 04:51:19 UTC 2006

Hal Rottenberg wrote:
> On 2/10/06, Alexander Gnauck <gnauck at ag-software.de> wrote:
>>> Bill pay over Jabber would be very beneficial.  I'm thinking we could even
>>> include a JEP for online banking.  Balance transfers, Inquiries and the
>>> like.
>> i thought about that several times too. Here in germany the latest
>> standard for online banking is FINTS 4 [1]. Its XML based too, but way
>> to complex. Whats used in other coutries currently? A XMPP extension
>> would be great here for a international secure standard.
> Let me make the comment here that whatever banks use will necessarily
> be very complex, very secure, very robust.  But XMPP is used on the
> stock exchange floors isn't it?  Does anyone know any details of what
> is done there?  Maybe some of those lessons can apply to banking.

Here in Australia, it seems like the banks aren't interested in giving 
us any kind of standard net banking protocol at all.  Shame, because 
desktop finance apps like GnuCash support connecting to banks to get 
updated account balances, but we get no access to any of that stuff.  As 
a result you see crazy things in CPAN where people have implemented an 
API for accessing Commonwealth Bank's netbanking (which of course screen 
scrapes the HTML.)

However, I did have a brief contract with a large bank here implementing 
a Jabber-based stock trader chat.  The general gist of it was:

   - User (guy with lots of stock and lots of money -- seriously, this
     was the definition of the user.  It was the kind of customer with
     so much money that the bank would have no problem supplying a free
     laptop, so that they could use this online banking system from
     anywhere) logs into a web interface which then loaded a Java chat

   - Applet of course talked Jabber with the server.  We happened to be
     running jabberd14 at the time, but obviously these days something
     like ejabberd would scale better for the real use case of a bank.

   - A "queueing component" managed the queue of users waiting to talk
     with customer support staff (very similar to the Workgroups JEP,
     only written months before that JEP existed.)  The intent at least
     initially was that the user asked the bank employee to buy stock or
     sell stock.  (A true interface for directly buying and selling was
     to come later, but it was considered that a real conversation was
     easier to prove as a transaction than a custom protocol.)

   - A "banking component" on which simple queries could be performed
     to get the current balance and current levels of stock, as well as
     anything else useful.  This was, of course, mocked out.  There is
     probably no way we would be allowed to access real balances, ;-)

The prototype did get off the ground, and as far as I heard the bank 
eventually decided to expand their efforts, however I wasn't involved in 
any of the further development so I have no idea if it ended up 
happening and no idea if it still uses XMPP (and I don't have enormous 
amounts of money lying around that would let me check out what they have 
to date. ;-))

That being said, it did allow me to flesh out a lot of use cases for 
things you might do in online banking and stock trading.

I think these days, the "ideal" scenario would be something PubSub-based 
to track your balances in various accounts, as well as some simple Adhoc 
commands for transferring money.  A desktop net banking client might be 
open all day for some of these individuals, and seeing the money flow in 
real-time would be a great selling point for someone with that much cash 
on their hands. ;-)

Still, it's something you have to first convince the banks they want to 
do.  How long after the introduction of HTTP did they start offering 
netbanking? :-)


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